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Lesson from The Karate Kid - “Wax on & Wax off”

Have you seen the movie “The Karate Kid”? Which one you may ask. Whether it was the old one or the more recent one, they both tried to portray the same message. Both kids wanted to learn martial arts for self defence but found themselves repeating some mundane silly chores. Little did they know they were injecting some fundamental moves into their muscle memories, and they were on their ways to greater things. In the end, they both became the inspirational winners in the respective stories. We have all watched and enjoyed similar heart warming films ever since the Charlie Chaplin era. Inspirational movies they are but my takeaway was not on the story of a come back kid or the bullies righteously got punished and learned their lessons. It was the “Wax on & Wax off” or the “Jacket on & Jacket Off” in the recent movie.

A comparable odd form of training passed off by an unorthodox mentor/manager on a skeptical novice can be found in the office. Sometimes comes in disguise as a set of seemingly unrelated tasks/chores, but just as often as a general exercise or common sense that promotes a valuable skill or attitude in a strange way. Always dismissed as a waste of time early on and perceived as dishing all the dirty work to the junior member. This hopefully would be appreciated later but more often than not the junior becomes a resentful and disgruntled employee and does not reach the full potential. If we wish to see similar outcome of “The Karate Kid” repeats in business, we have to be fortuitous to have mentors who believe that successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others and unsuccessful people are always asking “What’s in it for me?”. And for the novices, they have to trust that when they are judging everything, they are learning nothing.


It can be considered also a life lesson. It is like your childhood. When you were young you always complained about your parents for being so strict and why something must be done in a certain way. It is only when you are an adult you fully understand that your parents acted like that because they wanted you to become a better person and it is more than often that by the time a man realises that maybe his parents were right, he usually has a child who thinks he is wrong. I sure hope that would not be too late.

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